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Written by Gary J. Arzt

Friday, 23 January 2009

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As we aggregate all of the electronic and paper petitions we will make them available to any retailer or organization (IPCPR, CAA, CRA) who wishes to use them when working with/fighting with legislators trying to curb our smoking rights - this will be necessary on the local and state level too.  Just imagine hundreds of notebooks/dozens of boxes filled with bona fide signatures being unloaded in front of legislators when we are fighting for our rights - the mere existence of the Tobacconist Preservation Act/Signatures is important.  In addition, as we grow our signature base and funding we will enlist the help of our lobbyists to present our case to the federal government.  While we may be several years away from this, we need to start now!!! 

Puff: In light of all the anti-cigar activity being visited on us, do you consider the passage of this law to be a serious possibility? 

JLA: Yes.  I believe we can make a professional and legal argument for the fact that Tobacconists and Consumers must be able to sample products in their stores.  To deny that right it to interfere with a professional Tobacconists' ability to perform their duty/job. 

If the tyranny of the majority can prohibit Tobacconists from doing their jobs, then all is lost (individual rights, business owner rights, freedom, America, traditions, history, etc...). The key to our success (besides signatures and good lawyers) rests on our ability to prove we are credible professionals worthy of protection - to do this, we will need the support of the entire industry and many more Certified Tobacconists.

Puff: While the effort seems to be a day late, and a dollar short, Cigar Rights of America is the first real effort being made to stem the tide of anti cigar legislation, onerous taxation and 'abuse' being heaped on the cigar smokers in the United States. Do you actively promote membership in CRA to your clientele? 

JLA: Currently we are working on many new and exciting ideas/projects with and/or about the CRA.  While I cannot disclose much, I can tell you that it would seem reasonable to expect to learn about activism in a CRA School within Service College in Tobacconist University.....

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a CRA member.

Most importantly, let me add that all of this development, promoting the CRA, creating new content, and Certifying Retail Tobacconists for free is being made possible by our first Sponsor, Padrón Cigars; who have helped fund TU through 2009.   If it wasn't for their financial commitment to TU, none of this work would be possible.  And while it will take many more Sponsors to make TU a viable institution in the future, we are blessed to have their support.  It's important to note and promote companies with the vision and commitment to support and promote retail Tobacconists, as they are not exactly knocking down our door trying to give us money.

Puff: With your considerable experience in fighting these anti-cigar efforts; what suggestions do you have for the Tobacconists and the cigar smokers of America to help preserve our ability to enjoy, perhaps, the most relaxing, reflective moments anyone can have? 

JLA: Get Certified, join the CRA, get educated/read, frequent and support your B&M in any way possible as they are on the front lines, taking the brunt of taxation, anti-smoking legislation, and living in fear because they love their products and customers too much to go and do something else to make a living.  The retail Tobacconist represents one of the greatest cultural and social institutions in America.  If we lose them...we will lose the whole industry.

Puff: I thank you for a really enjoyable and informative conversation. I am sure the readers, Tobacconists and smokers alike, will learn a great deal from your comments. And, I thank you for your flattering remarks about my writing.






Comments 

 
0 # President TUJorge Armenteros 2009-01-24 04:28
Thank to Gary Arzt and Puff for writing and publishing this article. The questions were great and I thouroughly enjoyed the process. Looking forward to many more years of productive and proactive communications...

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